poetry

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“Yes, yes – I think I understand,” I said, but I really didn’t, really, my mind clogged ambiguously and cogged jaggedly and intermittently and haphazardly – yes, haphazardly, the onlookers reported to the authorities later, when they, the authorities, were taking their statements in the sadistic dusk, that growing darkness of the gathering madness, the spectacle too much for words, yes too much, too much. There was this one spectator, a pig-faced man, overweight, with circular sunglasses, sweating profusely even though it was quite cool, who gaggled verbosely to all in earshot, drawing grotesque analogies and gesticulating in a way most repulsive and repugnant, as if he and he alone were fit to characterize the happening as if it were his own little private fiefdom, like some petty despot Leopold in his nauseating Congo, enslaving and torturing the natives, squeezing rubber trees shamelessly and avidly like some gluttonous drunk, visioning his bureaucratic hell like it was a charm that could be controlled by he and he alone. The truth is, I had no motivation to understand all this jabbering gibberish – no more than a turkey is motivated to understand why his head is about to be chopped off. OK, I’ll admit this analogy is a bit severe. Bur decapitation *is *severe in its finality, in its *closure*, in its zero-sumness. I don’t thing *zero-sum* makes a whole heap of sense here, but you get my meaning, my* gestalt*. I am irritated to the point of criticality at pettiness, especially when it comes to the kind of burgeois bureaucracy that we’re subjected too much too often in our over-regulated, dumbed-down society, a society where pablummy infotainment passes for culture, where *American Idol* has replaced Dostoevsky. You get my point. Where can I get some napalm?

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It happened before I knew what hit me. I was on the outskirts of town, the sun dying in late afternoon, the sky a gray-purple. It happened so very suddenly, with such gale force, with such ferocity and velocity and, well, with such cataclysm, such momentum, with such vituperation, with such lightning-like alacrity, with such mongoose-quick whipsnap teleology, with such endemic force, with such pedantic voltage that it pooled the blood suddenly into my hypothalamus with such acceleration, with such gathering intensity, that a feeling of dread was not even a possibility. But dread is a waste of time; dread is for fools. But we cannot afford to be foolish. I knew someone who tried being a professional fool, and all it got him was an MBA from Harvard Business School. Now he’s the CEO of IBM, and is he *happy*? For what, after all, *is* happiness? Can it be measured, like angels dancing on the head of a pin? I say it can, and this is proven by research, published in the finest of peer-reviewd scientific journals, the type read by guys smoking briar pipes at their Mensa meetings. They say that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. They say all things shall pass. They say time heals. They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway. They say patience is a virtue. They say a lot of things. But who *are *they? I think they are aliens, or holograms of ourselves minus our souls, our spirits – that which makes us human and humane, not mewling, vengeful beasts who spend *way *too much time in the house of pain, being wantonly vivisected by Dr, Moreau when he’s not playing pinochle or skeeball or some other game that nobody plays anymore. My reaction was more an atavistic reflex than some emotional reaction. It reminded me of the time when I was in California when the Arab hit me with an umbrella. “You are just like my wife!” he hissed, as he whacked me over the head. It reminded me of the time I broke his finger when I punched David Nussbaum. It reminded me of when they told me to be quiet and I wouldn’t shut up. This was back in ’62, the summer that Marilyn Monroe killed herself. It reminded me of many things, most of them ugly and visceral and all too palpable. I recalled people that were dead now, Jim and Hunter and Richard and Ellie and Santo and Irwin and my father and Jane Winsor. You see, my memories of Dr. Moreau caused my hindbrain to do back-flips and loop-de-loops, and pinballed into a seemingly endless cascade of distorted, fun-house visions of *Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein*. Hell, I can’t explain why this was. Perhaps my analyst can. But he’s on sabbatical in Iceland – or so he says. You see, Dr. Praetorius can’t be trusted. He is shamelessly unethical and disingenuous. Of course he is – would I be treated by any other kind of shrink? He practices a particular dark type of voodoo that he learned in Sierra Leone when he was a war correspondent for the peace corps. Then I looked down at the sidewalk and up at a hawk chasing pigeons.

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———- Forwarded message ———- From: Jon Sarkin <jonsarkin@gmail.com> Date: Sun, Sep 14, 2014 at 9:18 PM Subject: To: michael digregorio <m.digregorio@att.net> The door flew open to the sound of a boot breaking wood and glass. I knew immediately that this was not a good way to start my day. The intruder, I deduced, was not the bearer of good tidings. As I prepared for the sound of the boot breaking my jaw, a very specific thought, I recall, ran through my brain. It was like a cataclysmically spiking fever in its suddenness and relentlessness, and, although its imperation was admixed with the kind of noisy urgency that’s found in folks who’ve nothing better to do than plead with people to follow them on social media: e-mail me @ needydude@trivialwhining.com! follow me on twiiter @ #getalife! instagram me! pinterest me! etsy me! listen to me on i-tunes! call me on your i-phone! text me! be my friend on facebook! my space me! see my website! see my vine! i don’t know why this flashed in my mind as i awaited the boot to strike my face. it didn’t really seem to matter. at this point, i was gone, really gone, what with the harrowing, nightmarish week i spent in Elko still acid-etched on my head like a rabid wolverine lunging wildly at anything that moves. Does an animal in that state have any neuron that is not on adrenaline-stun, driven, riven haywire like the smell of burning hair or machinery overcranked, smoking a bluegray smoke that spells impending disaster and cacophonic, atavistic disaster. What the hell am I talking about, just stringing together babbling gibberish so that I don’t have to face my bleak future, writing this crap in an obsessive-compulsive jag, waiting for my boot-heels to be following. Yes, friends, the smoke-rings of my embered brain leave a smoking crater of macerated ideas, withered (and withering) concepts, disjointed prophesy, decayed innuendo, deconstructed meanings, lost chords, meaningless syntax, functionless workings, meandering arguments, losing debates, short-end-of-the-stick logic, irrational paradigms, elliptical patterns, and a sort the tie-dyed, patchouli-oily, earth-shoed Aquarian insanity that one might see at Dead concerts circa 1970. Ha-ha, kids! The dream is over! It seems like a dream that we *even* had some sort of dream in the first place. What were we thinking. Because of the dream’s nature, I fear we had no bloody idea. But now we must face *reality*, whatever the hell that is. Me, I’d rather fight than switch. Again, I digress. How many more times? But back to the boot about to crush my mouth. I think I know what this was all about. I knew it was a bad idea to deal with Savage Henry, but I really had no choice. I was out on parole from Chino, and my prospects were limited, dead end. I knew Henry from the old days, and habits like stealing cars die hard. A friend of Henry’s Diamond Dave, was doing a dime at Chino at the same time I was there, so like a fool I looked them both up when I was in Elko. OK, I traveled to Elko for the expressed puropose of hooking up with them. Like I said, I knew the idea of working with them was foul, but my better judgment went out the window, disappearing with the west wind like so many geese. Jesus, did I just say that? Or did I just *think* I did? Flashbacks are impossible to lose – I guess that’s why there called flashbacks, They’re always gnawing at your sinews. Just when you think they’re gone forever, the remissions erupts into a fulminating wart of psychic queasiness. — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com

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———- Forwarded message ———- From: Jon Sarkin <jonsarkin@gmail.com> Date: Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 8:37 PM Subject: To: michael digregorio <m.digregorio@att.net> as i arrived at my studio, i saw cefalo standing in front of the caffe. a pleasantly unpleasant fellow, possibly unpleasantly pleasant. is there a difference? do i have to choose? is this what it’s come down to? cefalo would never understand this semantic hairsplitting. or perhaps he would. the more atavistic one is, it seems, the more proclivity he has for nuanced wordplay. for example, i forgot my keys, and when i went back into the house, i saw my turtle reading “war and peace.” i can’t say i was all that surprised, but what *did *was that he was wearing my wife’s reading glasses. how did he put them on? — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com

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———- Forwarded message ———- From: Jon Sarkin <jonsarkin@gmail.com> Date: Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 8:38 PM Subject: To: michael digregorio <m.digregorio@att.net> It really didn’t add up. No, it came to nothing, a bad deal gone down. I was thick in the gravelly gruel of my circumstance. Man, I was down-in-the-mouth about my happenstance. After perusing my options and nursing my broken-toothed luck, I still felt snaggled and fractured. I had this nimbulus, cold-cocked, landlocked feeling. I had no semblance of firmity. I felt small-changed into this bleak and bleary existence of malapropisms and poorly-seeded puns. Friend, I must recount my luck-lost and haggard, muffled exhaustion, the stupid idiotic after-shards of nonsensical soliquies echoing in my mid-brain – my clotted agonies, my unresurrected, unredeemable, passionless, guttural, speechless, ineffectual prayers. Would they ever be answered? I guess Faulkner thought they would not. “I,” he once said, “give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to a man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” I thought about this and then I didn’t any more. Faulkner wasn’t anybody but just some drunk who got published. It seems to get published you must be a drunk. I know there are exceptions to this theory. It’s not even a theory, no, not really, just some crack-head idea. But aren’t all ideas like this? My friend Bruce Newton is really a crack-head, so all his ideas are crack-head ideas. Admittedly, Bruce isn’t a great example of my thesis. He lives in a shotgun apartment on Main Street, above Virgilio’s. His apartment reeks of cigarettes and bacon grease. There are burn marks all over his sofa. His cheeks are grooved, and his eyes have the burned-out look of burnt-out light bulbs. But Bruce is my friend. Yeah, I trust him as far as I can throw a toilet bowl, and he stole my television, but I make friends with dead-end losers like this. I’ll bet Faulkner met some characters too. This is the devil’s bargain in Edge City, friend. You pays your money and you takes your chances. You belly up to the bar and roll them laughing bones. You bet the farm and put your bottom dollar on a long-shot. And when it comes in last, bubba, you roll up your shirt sleeves, dust your trousers off, and get back on the horse, and ride into another town and start the damned scam all over again. — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com

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———- Forwarded message ———- From: Jon Sarkin <jonsarkin@gmail.com> Date: Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 11:02 PM Subject: To: michael digregorio <m.digregorio@att.net> When I’m done with one of my cross-country trucking runs, hauling, let’s say, auto parts from Atlanta to Seattle, I like to kick back, put on Iannis Xenakis (he was a Greek composer/ music theorist/architect-engineer who was commonly recognized as one of the most important post-war avant-garde composers, and pioneered the use of mathematical models in music, such as applications of set theory, stochastic processes and game theory, and was also an important influence on the development of electronic and computer music, as well as integrating music with architecture and designing music for pre-existing spaces as well as designing spaces to be integrated with specific musical compositions and performances) at full volume, and read about *quantum transformation theory *(not to be confused with *transformative quantum theory*. Admittedly, this confusion is pretty common, but, although the differences between the two may strike one as nit-picky, I can assure you that, upon closer examination, they are quite distinct. For example, just yesterday I was talking to my friend Jack Liberis. Jack is an organic farmer who lives in Lowell, Massachusetts, which, incidentally, happens to be Kerouac’s hometown. Anyway, Jack is way into this stuff. Before he got into organics, he was a full professor at MIT, specializing in quantum theory. He got canned for showing up drunk at one of his lectures and throwing up on kids in the first row. I don’t know. Yes, being wasted on the job and puking on students *is* uncool, but shouldn’t he’ve been given a warning or something? Given mandatory time off to get his act together, or sent to some drying-out facility. OK, the dude had a booze issue. But the guy was tenured and all. He’s still bitter about being kicked out of MIT. One time when I brought it up in a way I thought was very diplomatic and sensitive, he threw such a damned hissy fit, that I feared he would expire of apoplexy! That’s the last time I ever went near the subject, I can assure you.), which is an early version of quantum mechanics, which allows each particle to have its own relativistic wave equation for the electron, and was the first successful attack on the problem of relativistic quantum mechanics. When the Xenakis is over, I then like to walk to the garbage dump behind my house, among the tires and rusting microwaves, thinking about the predictions I heard on CNN about what the planet will look like by 2200 – how Florida will look like the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Barrier Reef will look like Lookout Mountain, Georgia and so forth (I like to think about this kind of stuff – I really do. It gets my mind off my problems, or my *imagined *problems. Like me thinking I’m surrounded by phonies. I hate phonies, always wearing shorts when it’s too cold to wear shorts. Don’t they own a pair of long pants? And they always seem to be wearing fanny packs and an Australian Outback hat. What’s with the hat? Why can’t they wear a baseball hat or something that doesn’t make them look like a total doofus? And they always have this geeky-looking wife who I can tell is like a total phony, the kind of woman who is always talking about how chicken is on sale. I hate people like that. People who carry dental floss in their pocketbook so they can flosss after every meal. They make me sick. There should be a law against carrying floss in your pocketbook.) , and I also think about the existence of matter–antimatter annihilation and arbitrary quantities of quantum divergence in classical point particle theory combining advanced and retarded waves to eliminate the classical electron problems in quantum electrodynamics. I also remember my friend John Archibald discussing the Vancouver Olympics. “What’s with those skating costumes the men wear?”, wondered John; “Why is *skeleton* called that? If curling can be an Olympic sport, why not bowling or shuffleboard? And where can I take biathalon lessons?” I then think about the truck I must drive from Bellingham, Washington to Baltimore on Monday with my load of glass for the new tank they’re building for the aquarium. Perhaps John Archibald thinks aquarium improvements should be an Olympic contest as well. On the walk back home, in the February rain, my thoughts turn to my cousin Linda and her proposed formulation for an alternative description of light, which eventually leads to thinking about Dick Feynman’s point particle formulation of quantum field theory, and what’s for dinner. — Jon Sarkin jonsarkin.com